The Kingdom of Tonga is a Polynesian country scattered in the southern Pacific Ocean, surrounded by Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the west, Samoa to the northeast, Wallis and Futuna and Fiji to the northwest, Kermadec to the southwest, and Niue to the east. Tonga had been a British-protected state from 1900 until 1970 but worked its way to become a constitutional monarchy. The archipelago of 177 islands remains to be the only nation in the Pacific that hasn’t surrendered its monarchial government.
Before the government of Tonga introduced its own currency, the British currency was used in circulation across the country.
In 1967, the government of Tonga issued a new banknote in replacement of the pound, featuring a portrait of Salote Mafile’o Tofou III who served as queen from April 5, 1918, until December 16, 1965. On the 1973 - 1989 issues, the portrait was replaced by her son’s portrait Taufa’ahau Tupou IV who reigned as king from December 16, 1965, until September 10, 2006. In 1985, another set of notes was issued to meet the need for higher denominations. These notes have added circular watermark areas and the national emblem as an overprint.
On November 3, 1988, the National Reserve Bank of Tonga was established and started its operations on July 1, 1989. A new family of banknotes was released starting in 2008. These notes depict a portrait of the new king, George Tupou V. The smaller denominations also bear a 1.4-mm wide windowed security thread with a demetalized NRBT while the larger denominations carry a 2.0-mm wide thread that shifts from red to green with a demetalized NBRT. Meanwhile, the largest denomination has an Optiks thread.
In 2015, upgraded versions of banknotes printed by De La Rue were introduced, displaying a portrait of the country’s new king, Tupou VI on the obverse. The reverse design of the notes boasts landmarks and motifs related to Tonga.